Michael Maroni, the chef of a popular Italian eatery in Northport who was planning to open a second location in Southold, died unexpectedly Friday, according to Suffolk County police. He was 57.
Mr. Maroni suffered an apparent medical event while swimming in an indoor pool at his Northport home, police said. Northport Village police responded to the home at approximately 10 p.m. Thursday and he was transported to Huntington Hospital where he was pronounced dead Friday, police said.
Suffolk County Police Homicide Squad is investigating the death, police said.
Mr. Maroni and his wife Maria were planning to open a new location at the former Jeni’s Main Street Grill this spring. Jeni’s had moved earlier this year to the former Six Three One space in Southold.
In an interview with northforker in December, Ms. Maroni said: “We really want to serve the year-round community and we see a need for it here.”
The couple had purchased the Main Road building about five years ago.
“We live out here and this has been a dream of ours to bring what we do to the place that we love,” Ms. Maroni had said. “We are here to serve the community.”
The couple also owns a Southold home and their plan to was transition full-time to the North Fork when the new restaurant opened, Ms. Maroni had said.
They also had purchased a building from the Southold Historical Society at 54127 Main Road that was formally known as the Reichert Family Center. The sale was completed last September. The historical society had owned it since 2011.
Maroni Cuisine in Northport is famous for its Hot Pots and gourmet meatballs. A description on the restaurant’s website says “Michael Maroni is a self taught chef who is passionate, down to earth and spirited. … Maronis is more than a meal: it is an adventure that you will want to partake in again and again.”
The front window of the Northport restaurant describes it as “Northport’s smallest restaurant.” The couple opened it in 2001.
Mr. Maroni received recognition in 2007 when he appeared on “Throwdown with Bobby Flay,” a show that appeared on Food Network. During the episode, Mr. Maroni credits his famous meatballs to his grandmother. In the show, Mr. Flay tries to replicate the meatball recipe to match Mr. Maroni. In the end, Mr. Maroni emerged victorious.
A Newsday review of Maroni Cuisine published in 2016 described the restaurant as “a rabbit hole of a restaurant, unlike any on Long Island.”
WITH CYNDI ZAWESKI
Photo caption: Michael Maroni. (Credit: Instagram)